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Indian Finance Minister says delivering Kadirgamar memorial lecture:

End of war: Chance to shape history

India has not hesitated to come to Sri Lanka’s assistance at this crucial juncture:

The effective elimination of terrorism and secessionism from Sri Lanka offers it an opportunity to shape history; an opportunity to permanently change the complexion of the relationship between the majority community and the minorities; an opportunity to address the legitimate grievances of all communities; and an opportunity to bring permanent peace and stability to this great nation, said Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee delivering the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture on Saturday.

From India with love
* Indian demining team in Lanka

* Additional shelter material

* Help to revive agriculture

These are sine qua non for building the Sri Lanka of the future - a future in which all communities will live side by side and enjoy the same rights and privileges and get the same opportunities, he said.

After freeing the Tamils from terrorist forces, it is natural that the first and primary focus of the Government has been to ensure the immediate welfare and safety of its citizens.

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee paid a courtesy call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at President’s House yesterday. Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Deputy High Commissioner of India Wickram Misri and Finance Ministry Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara were also present. Picture by Chandana Perera

Thousands of Tamils have come out of the conflict zone traumatized by the conflict and harbouring deep concern and fear of what the future holds for them, the Minister said.

These citizens need reassurance. They yearn to return to their homes and resume their livelihood. Several thousand Internally Displaced Persons have indeed been resettled recently and we welcome this development, he said.

“However, many more await their turn for resettlement in camps.

We are confident that their speedy return is receiving the highest consideration of the Government,” he added.

India has not hesitated to come to Sri Lanka’s assistance at this crucial juncture.

This is only natural. We have announced an assistance of Rs 500 crores for the rehabilitation and resettlement in the North and are willing to do more, the Minister said.

“We are moving from purely relief efforts to a broader rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Our assistance had so far covered humanitarian supplies such as food, medicines and other essential supplies,” he said.

“We set up an emergency field hospital that treated over 50,000 people in the past six months.

Four Indian demining teams are working in the Northern and three more are on their way. We are sending additional shelter material. We are also providing assistance to revive agriculture and livelihood in the North.

\“Both sides are discussing assistance in reconstruction of critical civil infrastructure in Sri Lanka, including railways.

We are now discussing larger projects for the population in key cities who stand traumatized by the conflict. At the same time, we have not lost sight of the urgent requirements in the Eastern Province as well as of the Indian Origin Tamils in up-country areas. India is doing and will continue to do what it can to assist Sri Lanka in this critical phase of its history”, the Minister said. The vision of Kadirgamar went far beyond the immediate.

He believed that durable peace should be based on a constitutional arrangement acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, he said.

“There are many things in common between the two nations in terms of its history, culture, and philosophy and customs”, Mukherjee said.


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